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11.05.2017

Impressions of the annual alumni reunion in Tbilisi, Georgia

The 20th Annual Alumni Meeting of the E.M.B.L.-HSG Alumni Association led us to Georgia. Not Atlanta/Georgia, but Tbilisi/Georgia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the south by Turkey and Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan.

Day 1

The get-together started with the visit of the Presidential Palace in Tbilisi and a first traditional dinner with live music downtown, close to the river Kura, which gave a first impression of the diverse capital of the Caucasian country.

Day 2

The next morning the 35 participants took the bus to explore Mtskheta, the ancient capital of Georgia. Due to its historical significance and the many cultural monuments, Mtskheta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Because of its importance for Christianity in Georgia, it was also declared as „Holy City“ by the Georgian Orthodox Church.

On the way to Mtskehta the group made a first stop at Jvari - the „Monastery of the Cross“. To many Georgians it is the holiest church throughout the country. It stands where the Georgian King Mirian erected a wooden cross after he converted to Christianity sometime in the 4th century. About 200 years later, Stephanoz I constructed the church over the cross. So, by the time the group of entrepreneurs, management- and legal experts arrived, the church had been a holy ground for 1,400 years already. Obviously, Georgia was „business leader“ and „first to market“ when it comes to Christianity.

After these deep insights into Georgian culture, religion, architecture and art, the group enjoyed not only the sunshine but also fine wine over lunch in the wine cellars of Château Mukhrani, were the famous Georgian wines are produced with the help of Georgian tradition and European mechanical engineering companies.

In the evening, the group had an insightful reception at the house of the Swiss Ambassador Lukas Beglinger, who gave an interesting speech followed by a lively and fruitful discussion on the economic, social and political system in the Caucasian country.

Another highlight of the day was the show of Georgia’s National Ballet “Sukhishvili” in the State Concert Hall. The entertaining show made it a memorable night. However, only a few went back to the Hotel after that, while the majority of the group did the night walking tour and experienced how young Georgians party over the weekend in the historic old town of Tbilisi.

Day 3

In the Saturday morning, the alumni learned about the history, experienced the most important buildings and the architecture of Tbilisi during a city tour, and took the chance to buy some presents and souvenirs.

In the afternoon, the alumni attended a round table on different topics of interest concerning Georgian and international business law at the University of Georgia Law School. The following speakers and topics were discussed:
Liana Japaridze: Harmonization of Georgian Competition Law to the respective EU legislation / Irakli Gelovani: Arbitration / Levan Nanobashvili: The expansion of IP law and its problems / Jaba Gvelebiani: General business climate in Georgia / Timothy Barrett: Challenges in legal education in Georgia.

The annual meeting ended with a tasty farewell dinner at a restaurant on top of a hill. The „Funicular“ offers local cuisine, soviet-style architecture and an amazing view over Tbilisi-at-night from the terrace. While the waiters kept bringing khachapuri (a cheese filled bread) and khinkali (minced, spiced meat in a dumpling) and other delicious food over hours the group took the chance to practice the tradition of the „Tamada“ - a Georgian toastmaster. Subsequently all participants gathered on the terrace to say goodbye to Tbilisi and to each other. According to unconfirmed rumors, more than 1,000 selfies have been produced at this instance.

Executive summary

We had a blast. The time in Tbilisi was absolutely fantastic. If you haven’t been there, you should consider it. It is absolutely worth going there.

Acknowledgement

A big „thank you“ to alumna Nadja Serova and alumnus Nikola Bellofatto who organized the exceptional event in this fantastic destination.

Outlook

Now the alumni are looking forward to the 21st EMBL HSG Alumni Association meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Many thanks to our alumni for sharing their experiences with us!

Nils Günther, Executive M.B.L.-HSG alumnus 2006/2007